There are many adventurous ways to explore the UK that are well known, and there are less well-known ways too. How you see a country shapes your perception of it, and so this is something worth thinking about when next embarking on an adventure. There are many gems outside of London waiting for you to find them and here are just a few suggested to you. Britain has so much to offer in the way of natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, so make sure you put it on your adventure list.
There are many canals and rivers that meander all throughout the UK. Exploring a place on the surface of the water is an amazing way to see things that few people get to see, and to get off the beaten track. One of the many ways to do this is to go on a kayaking trip. This is quite a physical option so it might not be for everyone, although you are guaranteed to have a strong core and ripped shoulders by the end of it! Trapping your pack to your kayak and going off to explore what this country has to offer so much freedom and exploration to satisfy anyone’s wanderlust. If you are new to the UK companies like G Adventures could be of use to you. Combined with wild camping, this could be a trip that knows no bounds. Scotland is a hotspot for kayaking trips, and if you plan your journey right it could be all down river for you as well.
If you prefer something a bit more relaxed and comfortable, then longboating could be right up your street. Hiring a longboat is pretty simple and often all you need is a driving licence to drive one. There are many longboats throughout the UK travelling around the river systems so you will be in good company. Some people live on them full-time, but many people hire and rent them out to enjoy the summer months. If relaxing by the river on a warm summer evening sounds like your kind of adventure, then longboating is probably for you. Many people pub hop each day as there are so many by the riverside, you could find a new one each night. The Norfolk broads in the East of England is a popular choice for longboaters, but it can be done pretty much anywhere in the UK. The flatter the land the better, but if you are hiring out a longboat in that area then it is good to boat in! This can be such an amazing way to explore, and from the water, you can see an entirely different view of an amazing travel destination.
Here are just a few ways you can explore Britain by water. Travelling on the roads is a popular option, but exploring somewhere by water is a much more relaxing and enriching adventure. Try some of these great travel ideas out and see what hidden gems you can uncover.
When you’re planning a ski trip there’s one place that immediately comes to mind; the French Alps. There are ski resorts all around the world that are great but the French Alps are by far the best place to go. You’ve got a huge choice of resorts and some of the best ski trails in the entire world. You can find some great, traditional family resorts, as well as modern ski resorts high in the mountains. Whatever you want out of a ski holiday, you can find it there.
The problem is, there is so much choice in the French Alps it can be difficult to decide which resort is best for you. The way to work out where you should go is to look at your priorities. If you’re looking for a fast paced party atmosphere, you’ll want to go for some of the apres ski resorts around. But that’s not suitable for a family trip so if you’re taking the kids along, look at some of the more traditional village resorts instead. These are some of the best options to help you decide.
Chamonix has some of the best trails in the world but if you’re a novice, it might not be the best place for you. It’s famous for its huge descents and extreme trails that are great fun for an advanced skier. It’s also the site of the largest vertical ski lift in the world. However, if you’ve only been once or twice, or it’s your first time, you’ll struggle on some of those descents and risk injuring yourself. There are some novice areas but they’re often a bus ride away which can be a bit of a pain. The traditional town at the foot of the mountain is beautiful but if you aren’t that experienced, you might want to consider going somewhere else.
When you’re on a ski holiday, the slopes aren’t your only concern. The surroundings and facilities in your accommodation are also important. If you’re looking for a relaxing week away so you can put your feet up after a day on the slopes, Meribel is one of the best places to go. The luxury catered Chalet Foinsbois comes complete with a sauna, games room, gym and a hot tub. It still has all of the charms of a traditional ski chalet but with some great added extras. It’s the ideal choice for somebody that wants an indulgent ski holiday that maintains some of the magic of an old log cabin. The ski routes around Meribel are also more suited to beginners than the ones at Chamonix.
If you aren’t too bothered about staying in a traditional ski chalet, you should think about visiting Avoriaz. The ski resort, built in the 1960’s inspires a lot of different reactions from people. The buildings look like big apartment blocks, built from cedar wood. From a distance, they blend into the mountain but up close they’re a bit odd. However, Avoriaz is the perfect resort for skiers that aren’t that experienced. There is a ski lift straight from the village up to the surrounding slopes. Most people say that those slopes are enough to keep you entertained for a week but if you want to venture outside and find something more advanced, you can. You’re very close to a lot of the surrounding resorts so if you stay in Avoriaz, you’ve got plenty of choice for slopes at all skill levels.
When you’re going with a group that is mixed skill, there might be a lot of dispute on where you should go. The more experienced skiers won’t want to go to a beginners area where they’re going to be bored, but the novice skiers won’t be able to handle the difficult slopes that you find in resorts like Chamonix. Luckily, there’s a simple solution to that problem, head to Alpe-d’Huez. You’ll find a huge range of slopes for all skill levels, from beginners right up to the black runs that are reserved for experts. The beauty of going somewhere like that is that, even if you’re a beginner, you can move up to the harder slopes later in the week when you’re more confident, and nobody will ever get bored of the slopes.
Choosing the right ski resort for a winter holiday all depends on what you want out of your trip. If you’re an advanced skier, head to some of the more serious resorts where you’ll find the rest of the experts. If you’re a novice, you’ll want to go somewhere with plenty of slopes that you can manage.
“Was this in the plan?” How often have you said that or something like it when life did not follow that path you expected when you were a child or young adult?
For a fair few years now that saying has meant something different to me and many bloggers. It is the title of an inspirational blog by the very lovely Steph Nimmo. I was very honoured when she kindly asked me to read and review her book of the same name.
When the book arrived, I hesitated to start it. I thought I already knew what it was about and certainly had an idea of how it would end. No rushing to the back page this time then, Kate!
Let’s put some context on this. I met the beautiful Hayley from DownsSideUp at a blogging event many years ago. We connected at a heartfelt level very quickly perhaps aided by a wine or two. It was Hayley who introduced me to Steph in an insistent way as if it was vital we met. My first impressions of Steph were that she was warm and friendly but also stunningly beautiful and well-groomed. Those impressions have stayed the same although of course I feel I know her a little better having read the book.
It seems to me that like myself and many of us Steph identified as a career girl and hard worker first and foremost. The along came a husband and children as they will. Steph’s last pregnancy was challenging and there was a sense that all was not quite well confirmed when her second daughter Daisy was born with multiple special needs.
There’s a fair amount of medical terminology in this book because there has to be. Steph and her husband Andy and their children entered that world where things are not quite clear, where decisions have to be made about procedures often quickly and where blue-lighting becomes a common feature of life.
I defy you not to fall a little in love with the family as you read. They are not saints. They are rocked many times by twists in the road. They are human and inspirational not by choice but by what life throws at them and how they handle it.
I was interested to learn how Steph sometimes finds the learning issues of her boys far more difficult to contend with that the huge physical issues experienced by Daisy. It was also so lovely how Steph realises that her other daughter had special needs of her own as the “normal” child in the family.
It was wonderful to see that Steph could draw on the support of family and friends. Thank goodness she had a support network already in place.
What came out very strongly was how many magical memories Steph creates with her family perhaps all too aware that life can be too short. There are three huge losses in this book the first being the loss of Steph’s Dad and that was the first point when I cried as it brought back memories of losing my own father.
So what do I take away from the book?
It has made me want to be more proactive about living fully with my children making memories. This was already important to me but it is so easy to have a lazy day when we should be actively relishing our family moments.
It has made me want to encourage Steph to write more as I feel she has other valuable lessons to share perhaps with the children involved in the new book/s if they were interested in doing that.
When my Mum died she said she was OK with dying as she had visited all the places she wanted to and done all the things she had hoped to. Very few of us can claim that but we can work proactively on making it happen and/or cherish the blessings that have come our way as Steph’s husband does.
I went to the bar the night after reading the book and “Starman” by David Bowie was played. There is more to this life (and the next) than we know. Read the book and you will know why I end my review with this.
Highly recommended and might just shake up your life a bit!
Britain is home to some of the most beautiful gardens – from The Alnwick Garden (including the Poison Garden) to the grounds of Kensington Palace. For this article, we’ve teamed up with Oldrids and Downtown, retailers of stunning conservatory furniture to highlight some of the most beautiful gardens in the country. We hope they will inspire you to inject something new to your outside space as the sunnier days arrive now that spring has sprung.
Kensington Palace Gardens
Whisk yourself off to the world of Neverland by visiting the incredible Kensington Palace Gardens, which was the key inspiration behind the famous children’s book series Peter Pan. This is such a magical garden and I have fond memories of walking around it with my brother on a very happy white Christmas many years ago.
As well as being home to some royals, the palace is world renowned for its spectacular garden space. The Sunken Garden will make for an intimate experience and allow you to develop your peace of mind during your stroll. It’s the very place where Prince Harry introduced the world to his bride-to-be this year.
The palace prides itself on its gardens, and keeps up with historic traditions when it comes to planting. In the spring, tulips, pansies and wallflowers bloom, whilst during summer, you will see geraniums, cannas and begonias pop out with colour. This is why it is great to visit at different times of year for a whole new experience each time.
Check out the marble Queen Victoria Statue that sits in the East entrance of Kensington Palace. Celebrate children in the Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground.
According to ALVA, Kensington Palace had a 4% increase in visits during 2016 — with 397,285 visits in total.
Biddulph Grange Garden
If you’re looking for a garden that will open your eyes to different cultures, a trip to Biddulph will do just this. The 15-acre land is split into different sections that represent different countries across the globe, with Chinese, Egyptian and multiple themes running throughout. It will give you a greater perspective to gardening features around the world. I love this idea and have yet to visit certain that my children and I would learn so much.
The Egyptian landscape includes towering square hedges and a grand temple protected by two pairs of sphinxes. The temple has detailed stonework with bright colours that accompany the golden yews that were planted within this area. A mysterious passageway that leads to the temple is lit by red lights and there’s also stained-glass window which allows you to see the detail of the monkey-god sculptures and more. If you can’t afford a trip to Egypt, this will give you a good feel for the country.
The beauty of The China Garden is that it brings the entire Chinese culture to one place. Using colour to its advantage, bright reds, yellows and greens are featured on all of the structures within the garden — from pond bridges to pagoda’s. The garden also includes a pagoda tree, paulownia tomentosa, azaleas, bamboos, hostas and more, as well as plants from Japan, Britain and America.
There is so much to see at the Biddulph Grange Garden, so remember to take your smartphone because there will be plenty of aesthetically pleasing photo opportunities! Your Instagram feed will rock after a visit to this special place.
The Alnwick Garden
Visiting The Alnwick Garden is like stepping into another world. Home to famous fountains, poison gardens and one of the biggest treehouses in the world — this place has it all. The 14-acre site has a history of plant growth, as the 3rd Duke of Northumberland brought seeds from all over the world to populate the garden with blooming flowers and generate a unique spark within the community. Now, the site has over 200 species of plants — including some which are deadly so watch out!
What makes this location different to any other on our list is that they have a Poison Garden. But the question is, are you brave enough to enter? Locked by cast-iron gates with skull plaques saying “These Plants Can Kill”, the garden includes strychnos nux-vomica, hemlock, Ricinus communis and more deadly plants. However, the garden stands for a much greater purpose as it aims to educate people on drugs by featuring cannabis, coca and papaver smniferum.
If you love an adventure, the treehouse that has been built from sustainable Canadian cedar, Scandinavian redwood as well as English and Scots pine is the place you should be going. The wobbly rope bridges will lead you to the treehouse café and restaurant, where trunks power through the flooring and make for a remarkable experience.
Carole Ann Rice has 30 years’ experience in PR, TV, radio and print media and is the author of two career-change books. Drawing on her own success, Carole Ann uses humour, compassion and inspiration to make the process easy and fun for her clients. So as Spring arrives, I am delighted to share my interview with her including some thoughts on why our New Year Resolutions might have gone a bit wrong.
Tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years.
I was brought up in a council house in Northolt, dad had served in the Navy in WW2 – we always had great music on, dad bought a record shop and we got out of housing estate hell. I was a punk in 1976 (one of first in West London) and I went to art college when I was 17.
What was your first job?
I have waitressed, done soul- annihilating administration work on industrial estates in Perivale, was an assistant puppeteer on a TV programme, had my own kid’s network cookery show in the 80s (2 series) which I produced and presented and have been a self-taught journalist for 30 years
What do you do now?
I am a life coach, columnist, author and I have a coaching academy where I train people to become world class life coaches
What would you say to someone who is despairing that they did not stick to their New Year resolutions?
It is still possible to make positive changes. When setting a goal, make it achievable, don’t set the bar too high, be realistic and take small steps. Consistency is key to success and be patient. Don’t expect overnight results.
What is visualisation and how can women harness it to improve their lives positively?
Having a clear idea of what you want is all. If you have clarity you don’t need therapy. Energy follows intention. Create a vision board or day dream regularly. Deep down we all know what we want but we don’t trust themselves.
What is peer support and how can it help women in their lives?
You need people who really “get” you. Find your tribe. Network or create online groups of likeminded people.
Who has supported you at your most challenging times?